The Delegation of the European Union to the United States and the Embassy of France in the United States are pleased to invite you to this EU Rendez-Vous organized in relation to the World and European Day against the Death Penalty"
Welcome remarks by:
- Nathalie Broadhurst, Deputy-Chief of Mission, French embassy in the United States
- David O'Sullivan, European Union Ambassador to the United States
- Micki Dickoff, Filmmaker
The screening of The Gathering (World Premiere) will be followed by a panel discussion and a reception
- Elizabeth Zitrin, President, World Coalition against the Death Penalty
- Micki Dickoff, Filmmaker
- Nate Fields, exonerated death row survivor from Illinois and Board Chair of Witness to Innocence
- Magdaleno Rose Avila, Executive director, Witness to Innocence
- Debra Milke, exonerated death row survivor from Arizona, Witness to Innocence
- Caroline Vicini, Deputy-Chief of Mission, EU Delegation to the United States
Engage with us using @franceintheus @EUintheUS and #abolishDP.
All participants must RSVP and present a valid ID at security checks.
On Witness to Innocence:
Witness to Innocence (WTI) was founded in 2003 by Sister Helen Prejean, internationally renowned anti-death penalty activist, author, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Ray Krone, an exonerated death row survivor from Arizona who was freed due to DNA evidence. WTI is the nation’s only national death penalty abolition organization composed of and led by exonerated death row survivors.
On the documentary:
Once a year the exoneree members of WTI and their loved ones come together for three days of peer support, strategy and a commitment to end the death penalty in the United States. WTI calls this convention "the Gathering", and there is no other event as important as this one to the exoneree members and their loved ones.
For three days exonerees have an opportunity for healing as they engage with other death row survivors through peer support and solidarity. The suffering of a wrongful conviction of death takes an enormous toll on the exonerees, and WTI is the only organization that provides this type of support in the country. The injustice suffered by these courageous men and women compels them to be warriors against the death penalty.
Filmmaker Micki Dickoff and photographer Roni Ziemba captured the voices and power of the exonerees in this 24-mn documentary whose World Premiere will take place during this event jointly organized by the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S. and the Embassy of France in the U.S. The film tells the story of WTI death row survivors and their families.
On the filmmaker:
Emmy award-winning filmmaker Micki Dickoff has made social justice films for four decades. Her films have addressed AIDS, human rights, racism, poverty, the justice system and death penalty.
Micki’s critically acclaimed work has screened at festivals worldwide, on national and international television and in theaters. Her films include documentaries Neshoba: The Price of Freedom and Too Little, Too Late, and dramas Mother, Mother and In the Blink of an Eye.
Micki participated in the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, the American Documentary Showcase, and was nominated for the Humanitas Prize for her civil rights film, Neshoba.
On exonerees speaking in the panel:
Nathson "Nate" Fields spent 20 years in prison in Illinois, including 11 years on death row, for a murder he did not commit. The judge in Nate's case took a $10,000 bribe to rig the outcome of the trial. The judge went to prison for 13 years and Nate’s conviction was overturned when the corruption was uncovered. Nate is now serving as the Board Chairman of Witness to Innocence.
Debra Milke spent 23 years on death row in Arizona after being wrongfully convicted of killing her 4-year old son. She was released from prison in 2013 and an Arizona state appeals court ordered the dismissal of murder charges against her in 2014. Debra is one of two female exonerated death row survivors in the United States and she is an active member of Witness to Innocence.
On the European Union 's role in organizing this event and the EU involvement in opposing the death penalty in the US:
The European Union and its 28 Member States are unequivocally opposed to the death penalty at all times and under any circumstances. An inhuman punishment, it fails to deter criminal behavior and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. Miscarriages of justice-inevitable in any legal system-are irreversible when a death sentence is imposed. Every year, on the occasion of the World and European Day against the Death Penalty, the European Union raises awareness on this issue and reiterate their strong opposition to the use of capital punishment. Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, the EU supports several NGOs working toward the abolition of capital punishment in various countries around the world, including the US (such as Witness to Innocence) and a number of nations in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. See further information here.